Michael Smith of the "Sunday Times" Chats Online
Harry Turtledove Has Another Fan

Sanam Vakil in the FT on Iran

The Belgravia Dipatch writes:

THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: Vakil Trumps Pletka: Underwhelmed by Danielle Pletka's boiler-plate, cliched op-ed piece in today's NYT? Have no fear! The FT--which incidentally, and for my money, produces significantly higher quality opinion journalism in its pages, day in; day out, than the New York Times--has a much more, er, nuanced Iran analysis from Sanam Vakil...:

The emergence of a reformist movement... forced the clerical elite... to acknowledge the link between demography and democracy. With 70 per cent of the population under the age of 30 and with no memory of the revolution or its nationalising ideology, the government recognised that it was sitting on a ticking time bomb. Mr Rafsanjani's re-emergence signifies an essential and often overlooked change... a weakening in the position of the rahbar or supreme leader.... Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, did not want Mr Rafsanjani to re-enter the political scene....

As a born-again pragmatist, Mr Rafsanjani has abandoned his revolutionary ideals for national-interest oriented objectives. Potential rapprochement with the US - an anathema for many traditional revolutionary adherents... is an idea Mr Rafsanjani has flirted with for years and is now one of the main pillars of his campaign. Increased economic liberalisation is another policy issue that reveals the ideological divide between Mr Rafsanjani and the clerical apparatchiks. Both of these issues are not only on his agenda but critical for gaining mass popular support.

It is not just in opinion journalism that the Financial Times outstrips the New York Times: the first is simply a much, much better newspaper.